Monday, December 31, 2007
This dance you do, what do you call it?
I call it the No-Skin Crispy.
I call it the Nutra-Sweet Goose-step.
And this thing between us is not love,
but waxy build-up.
Call me by my real name; Mr. Crunchy.
Call me by my real name; Microsoft Willy.
Call me sugar when I melt at your mouth-step,
filled with a fever of false promises.
Call me Son of Cheese-Wiz,
Son of Sons of the American Spread.
I will cover this landscape in redundance.
I will cover it with the flu of surrender.
I will check on the status of my deadened heartbeat
and think, “This will be the only sound
I’m hearing when I dance, when I dance,
the only sound I’m hearing
when I dance from now on…”
Saturday, December 29, 2007
It’s not that I am dead. It’s not that.
It’s just that I’ve been burnt a little, that’s all.
When that happens, you tend to loosen up,
in terms of slipping. Parts gone since
you last checked them. Funny.
Things seem to run fine, even in their absence.
Maybe they weren’t needed to begin with.
There’s so much excess baggage nowadays,
it’s hard to tell.
The circle has wandered farther than the name
we put on it, its’ letters spread so thin
they barely cast a shadow.
We don’t even recognize them
as letters anymore; just long, deliberate slashes
made through the landscape---to tell time, perhaps,
or was it to measure miles?
The mechanism rusts in the desert.
I keep walking, hoop through hoop.
It’s not that I am dead.
I just keep walking through.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Things work out. Things always work out. How many times can we fool ourselves? There are candles burning out there, there are lights that stay on all night.
The glow on the sill lasts long
after the switch is hit off,
but still we turn our shoulders
like the bows of ships
toward what might hit us,
and we curse the things that bring us here.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
AGE OF GRACE
Suddenly, all the clocks fell dead.
Their arms went limp, rigor mortis set in. The front doors blew open.
Those of us inside were finally coming out.
We were sons abandoning our fathers, children
who left the radio on, the faucet running, the oven burning high as they stepped greedily into the sunlight.
It was an age of grace, I think,
and all we could do was pick up and leave.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
PRESS HERE TO ACCESS SEXUAL HEALING
I love to see you this way;
your wide-spread, circuited body.
You who were once so distant from me,
now made an infinitely soft-wear.
My keyboard shimmers in symphony
with all twenty of the programmable senses,
my fingers press further
through this gnarled and circuited light. My joy-stick begins its’ joyful wagging, dancing like an ice skater freed from my palm:
(The pleasure center is under control.)
(The pleasure center is open for business.)
(The pleasure center has been seized by terrorists. Please stand by.)
So many buttons to push, so little free time…
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
THE PRODIGAL GODZILLA
The president’s forehead grows thin as paper. Inside, a fire is burning, whole libraries are turned to ash.
The White House becomes a party hat, passed around drunkenly by the side of the pool.
No one can decide a thing.
Switchblades flick open; horrible abortions are performed
In the shadow of the golden arches; Everyone is on
A blood-mad search for the True Son, the Son of the King.
If they can kill him, they might feel a little better.
Everyone’s in a mood that’s a lot like drowning.
Now their fingers strum a symphony on my belly.
They clamor for the placented sunlight to stream from me.
They are hungry; there can be no waiting.
They’ve always played a game with fear.
Now they want the real thing.
My breath, the angel wings of butane.
This is my body, I give you this gift.
I will give fire back its’ original name.
Monday, December 24, 2007
THE PRODIGAL GODZILLA
When I was old enough to stay up late without a babysitter,
the TV transfixed me: I would sit, afraid to let the blue glow fade, to feel the cold photo of night press itself against the picture window, because I knew Godzilla would be there,
taken from the screen
like a drop from a petrie dish suddenly grown full-size and looming.
Godzilla, some stillborn child put on this earth horribly starving,
with a throat thimble-thin and a gullet wide as an ocean,
full of a depleted vocabulary of fire and rage, never able
to express his needs and so hated, fired upon
by toy armies of reason.
Godzilla, I get back the X-ray from the hospital;
He’s in me now, trashing against my ribcage.
I knew junk food was a curse, but not this bad.
I didn’t know it could have children. Now my womb
swallows the sky, and everyone is watching.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
HOW TO TAKE A LUNCH BREAK
Today, at lunchtime, I wish my eyesight could take me with it,
to glide the oil-slick East River waters, or to hover
in a nest of cool shadows beneath the Brooklyn Bridge,
and hear the cars screaming past, voices trapped
in their own relentless momentum.
Today, I wish I had the wind for hands,
so I could strum the steel twine of the Brooklyn Bridge
like a Marx Brothers’ harp, and play out the rapid pulse-rate of this day.
Today, I wish for an end to things—or a beginning.
I wish the “Watchtower” clock across the river,
which flashes the successive death of each
passing minute, would suddenly tell a new story,
would proclaim in a crowning digital display:
Saturday, December 22, 2007
And suddenly, the walls around you are lifted, and you’re talking
to an audience you didn’t even know was there.
While outside, some cheap, hard-boiled narrator tosses off
one last cigarette into the East River, to ignite all the lost
gasoline and precious fluids floating on its’ surface,
and as the wall of screaming heat climbs higher,
and your forehead is a billboard selling, “SWEAT!”
all you can do is turn to your neighbor and shout,
“Some weather we’re having, isn’t it?”
We are all swarming toward something, some vast light source.
We are like the nameless warriors at Troy, who threw themselves
at Helen’s beauty, only to be cast off and broken.
It is those who know how to get their actions “read”
who are remembered: an Achilles or a Hector with their sense of good timing--when to enter a scene, when to stay out of it,
when, even, to die. Without that, the film reels loop and hiss,
gathering skin-moist in layers on the floor. Just hour after hour
of raw footage, taken as a security precaution, and nothing more.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Run your tongue upon the withered zinc; the dampness will help the connection.
If you slipped me in your pocket and held me close,
my radium, my quick-twisted crown,
I would know something so subterranean, it could make me sing.
I will arc across streetlights and saliva, the dashboards will glow blue
with drowning, or submission.
The song will come in slow, broken pauses,
the dance will ache like the palm on the hip of some distant cousin…
(Don’t slap me---I’m not through yet)
We’ll whisper the names already asked toward forgiveness:
My third grade teacher, my hypodermic nurse,
my father blackening the air with gin swills.
Oh, slit open the skin, as batteries run low;
Let the charge run home.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
"Do you begin to see there is no face there in the tarnished mirror?"
Gun-toting racist lawmen swagger drunkenly across the landscape.
Sexually repressed secret agents plot each other's demise. Hidden
enclaves of technocrats vie for power and unleash deadly viruses. A young boy abruptly blooms into a red-haired wolf, leathery femalesnake-beasts invade the English countryside.
We begin to see this story as its own kindof viral replication, endlessly mutating itself into new forms.
The leathery she-beast is now a captive sideshow attraction. Expose all faulty wiring and cheap, duct-taped bandstands,
the hollow flash of out-dated tricks! The trappings are there,
but their mechanisms are left dangling, half-completed.
We hear the staccato police report, the carnival huckster,
the dispassionate scientist, the Hollywood censors;
all purveyors of noxious light.
We wait for the explosion.
Once it’s over, we are left
with bald cacophonies, with a sick nostalgia
for a time just before the bomb went off--- the silence that up until then, we chose to ignore.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
It is Easter Sunday. A ruined egg on the pavement
reminds me; its scattered shell the blue tint of the virgin.
Girls in their pink dresses look ambiguous, swivel
their small hips to salsa, or lean from ground-floor windows,
blow kisses to each other, waiting for church.
Behind them in their darkened apartments, the immaculate corpse looks on, hung
from his cross above the solemn brown TV console,
its’ volume turned down.
In the park, on beaten stubble fields, families play soft ball, launch rockets from which white plastic statuettes of astronauts fall with parachutes back to the earth.
Children run to collect the remains. There is nothing simple in this.
Each event unfolds, small and cautious. Airplanes mark the sky
with their blue-etched trails. What is seen through the corner
window can seem as distant as a radio broadcast; can be us
or others. I see the slow smoke of restlessness,
momentum as its own song.
Monday, December 17, 2007
GRACE RUN IT THROUGH ME
Don't leave me, as sunlight spreads
its wound through the broken-jaweddoorways of morning. Don't let me
forget how I stood here, mouth open,afraid what might enter.
There are diamonds still caught
in the tough black gullets of crowswho swing toward the sun.
There are still fish alive in this river-- bright as coins they flash, searching the bottom
There are children racing
through nervous pews,
who trace dust on black Bible fronts,
and dream of cars like red-painted animals
with doors open, waiting for them.
There are men who jostle and shout around the spuming back of a garbage truck.
In the muddled half-sleep of work,
their faces dance to each other
like drowned garments.
They think of going home to touch
their lovers, to run the shiver
like a current through their fingers.
This is the shudder,
the hollow collapse.
I will not break.
Run it through me.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Toss your arms toward winter, when summer
is the barren ground. Your loved ones become icons; senseless saints and vibrant clowns.
The hand that reaches is the hand that creates, is the one that refuses, turning all beauty to waste.
My prayer is the slim leaf that falls openwhen no one else is around.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Our skin is just starting to come apart. I feel it
like an annoying burr, how it catches on my bones, while all the howling circumference is around me, waiting to come in.
No wonder we are on edge, when the teetering
data banks are just waiting to infuse us
with a sense of something greater; whale sounds, ocean's pulsings, and suddenly
I am held fast to the catacombed bones of the earth,
and a silver-haired, white-skinned hag kisses me
with cold lips and tells me impossible things.
And then I am alone on rain-dark open grass plains, the first garble of man sounding around me,
cousin of skin who would eat me without pause.
How I could grow hair like him,
let it flood me, coarse and luxurious…
Thursday, December 13, 2007
You hate the feeling of looking over your shoulder,
but then there I am. How about this:
I'm the younger brother, the one recklessand beautiful, who tipped the speedometer toward red,
and now returns after years of quiet with an itchy
trigger finger and the insistent promise that this is it, the last scam, the last chance for us both to cash in.
As soon as the porch door clicks shut behind me, you know only trouble can come from my hunched but vibrant silhouette.
Or how about this one: I'm your bleached-blond ex-lover,
who split for beauty school and Hollywood a life-time ago,
but now comes back, oily and sensuous, barely coiledinside my red satin dress. That's the one where
the sweat on your forehead matches your internal landscape,
your constant state of indecision, until in a burst of fatal passion
you thrust me across the card table, spilling
drinks and religious icons, giving yourself up
to the kind of love that always spells death.
Some say I’m beyond hunger. What do you think?
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
SINGLE MAN BLUES
A single man
A carpenter, plumber or electrician Clattering along in a panel truck
Thoughts with his coffee gone cold
A single man, but
An ocean flows inside him
Grey shores circling the narrow
Coastline of his skull
He knew it was there
But turned his eyes from it
But if a single man would break
The streets would be flooded
The world would be water
And all this forgotten
Except for a single thing
An old dresser knob
Or a child’s wooden hammer
A reminder of industry
That hands sleep somewhere below
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
It came like this…I thought the ice was trying to tell me something.
My whole weekend full of suffused and glittering light, battered by its brilliance, and the best any of us could come up with is, "It sure is pretty out there."
All the branches the leaves tree trunks windows clock faces
encased in ice, a world of frozen blossoms, a world remade,
We walked and slid in clumsy pirouettes across its smooth
and stiffened skin, the flecked-off fragmented stars
stared down, spinning and spinning, and the cold empty
sky opened as my mouth opened, full of purple breath bruises,
pushed out, set aflame.
Monday, December 10, 2007
We are all coming apart, piece by piece.
Here, the lost have voices, delicate as insects,
or the smallest yawn of tides dragging us under,
calling our ears to listen.
Here, that man with the dirty wet newspaper a week old
can speak in any voice allowed him, can quote numbers,
artifacts, tired marrow, the particular grin of car hoods, the hoops of air that birds made leaping through him.
Here, that language speaks on and on, a bludgeoned silhouette that never runs out of words.
Here, he is our mission.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Let the others shut the door, turn off the lights.
Let the silence bicker and murder itself until morning,
so we can turn to face each other with the drowsy sense of new-borns.
Let the riveted acres of the dead stretch on.
Our tongues flash, like car hoods with nothing on them.
Each new day bursts open, contagious with the past...
Friday, December 7, 2007
Had a pure moment tonight, going to see “Fly Ashtray” at CBGB’s
after a vicious, tremendous thunder and lightening squall
all over Manhatta and outlying regions, the drains overflowing,
women running, skipping puddles, holding up paper plates
in dainty, old-fashioned defense against the weather;
all this stirred-up energy, and there I was, waiting
for the light to change, ducking under the nearest canopy
to escape the rain, and I spot James out in front of CBGB’s
catching a smoke, and the lightening flashes, soundless now
over the roof tops above him, and the restaurant/bar where I’m seeking shelter actually starts playing, “Gimme Shelter”
by the Stones, a great tribal-rhythm song, and suddenly, my pulse
starts racing with the shots of Jim Beam running through me,
and it’s life during war-time, and I’m raggedly ecstatic
waiting to cross the street to meet my friends
and hear the dirgey gargoyle crowings of this,
our precious beast, our broken back, our rock ‘n’ roll…
Thursday, December 6, 2007
I am an amnesia patient of greater heaven. I come up, mouth open, and all the wonder
I could feel is a dull and half-lit thing,
a distant companion, something wrapped
in burlap cloak and bandaged feet,
while the gulls circling above
the earth mock and shriek and leave a single feather, a fluttering abundance,
something that when you find it you think
is yours alone and was meant only for you-- This is time muscled and bearded with teeth,
set to dripping just as it's stopped.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Would that I'd foreseen you casting doubton all I've created. Would that I could cancel doubt
from every existent program. What do you bring me?
Hands full of famine, eyes like penniless oxides…
Does this count as knowledge? No!
Yours is one of the shortest nations
born from withered bones.
But just look at the neutered muskets,
the three-corner hats turned at a jaunty angle
during any recent small-town parade.
What once drew blood is now
the silken puff of illusionary corn starch.Name the bullet, name the substance. I could erase them all in an instant.
I am the speed-dial, the viral rewrite,
all that is best forgotten given a new name.
You should really learn to love me.
It’s going to end up in the program, anyway…
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
THE HOT FLESH BALLET
I love to see the blank billboards at night,
like sails for a voyage not yet taken.
I want to climb the pure white
background, act out shadowized remnants
of some third-grade play for passers-by
on the high way, cause a few to swerve
shuddering into the guard rail.
Afterwards, the rubber-necking packs
will strain themselves, gazelle-like
and blood-seeking, while a loudspeaker spouts,
“Here is another death caused by art!”And in the ensuing wave of mass hysteria,
new government crack-downs against
play-acting in the dark.
It’s like something I saw last week--
“The Hot Flesh Ballet.”
Tap-dancing on the third rail;
(the performances didn’t last long).
It made you think who would be that crazy,
that desperate to fill up the stunned
and empty expanse of our free time?
But you didn’t even mind the delay
as the squads came in to clear
the blackened remains of the dancers away.
NEAR THE DROWNING
Men still dangle fishing lines and traps,
drag up a plastic six-pack holder,
lank with seaweed.
They laugh at what they're missing.
TV helicopters tear wide the twilight, carrying news like a vaccine.
The water is sick, a snake peeling its skin, grey and glittering.
The sun burns in one final burst.
The Chrysler Building glows
like a church steeple tainted with gold. Seven shafts of light fall upon huddled
brown housing projects.
And the river moves in the way it always moves, full of its’ dark, constant rewritings.
Every open mouth gives up something.
Sunday, December 2, 2007
There, past the blazing green
and kicked-up, scalded dust,
behind the monkey bars that hung
like the ghost-bones of astronauts,
where the shade curled by the split-wood fence,
that’s where we hunched, furtive
and hot-breathed, scouring the sick mystery
of older kids: smashed beer cans and the rain-stuck pages of old porn mags,
cracked and dried like animal hides in the grass.
We fought over their furtive, glossy limbs,
brought back tatters to stick in our desks. We glanced at them between science lessons,
where we studied half-finished men
in crinkling, plastic text book diagrams, peeling back a hazy lung or spleen,
like we were digging down to the heart
of some Colorforms murder victim.
I knew the secret wound of my body.
I knew what was worth hiding.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
FIRST BORN SON
He grips his shaft, shy as a crab's palpus testing the dark. He has just been dreaming
of entering everyone he has ever known. A freight train moans ponderously through him,
swaying its shank of metal across long-dead
sea-beds of Mid-West. He is long gone,
too far gone, afraid of his window,
of eyes that might flare out there,
harsh and valpecular beneath hedge-light. He has spent a life-time retranslating road signs
he has read, comparing the crumbling mountains
and waterless rills of the moon to his own mother's
thronged and sagging flesh. He has grown old
listening to her bathroom coughing fits. Now, somehow, he feels larger than the billboard
that blares white and empty by the entrance to the highway.
He is almost there, can hear the slow grind
of traffic signals shifting, green to red,
the hush and rustle of night-time wheat fields all around, closing in.
He has woken to know that no one thing owns him,
that to grow is not a tangle of roots, but release.
This city lost in mist, grey as the cold statues of the dead we know
are dead just by touching them.
In this mist which looks like remembrance,
I cross a bridge between two boroughs.
I like this span of metal,
the arch and rigid grip of it.
How it holds the thrumming of trucks
close to its marrow, how they pulse up through my feet, a deliberate memory,
long after they've rattled past.
Strangers meet, slung between two points,
fingering switch-blades and nervous coins. All their furtive iconography of want,
like mileage counters clicking silently
on each blue-lit dashboard below.
Nothing holds me here.
In the wind, the hump-backed
frozen bones of concrete,
the stricken hypodermic of buildings,
I am remembering you.
I wish you could know
what my mouth tastes like now.
My lips are open, I am spanning.
Friday, November 30, 2007
I come up from the subway, where hunchbacks play
the accordion and drag long bags of laundry. I head
for the all-night deli, where a bulb has flickered out,
so it shouts to me, "ALL IGHT...ALL IGHT...ALL LIGHT"
I step beneath its canopy, to let the folds of harsh florescence take me in, and I look around,
witnessing the busy litter of late-night items:
oranges wrapped in newspaper, cantaloupe chunks
steaming, and the coffee sodas all laden with a yet
undiscovered poison. It's in their bright, quick
arrangements that I suddenly see a randomgrammar; foil wrap and chemically induced color
all flashing out mantras I begin to recite convulsively.
I see Abraham Lincoln watching a View-Master presentation
of the Moon Launch and saying, "There's not a free man
among them" and then wondering, "Is my check in the mail yet?"
I see the CEOs of Microsoft smearing their bodies
with bear fat to keep warm for the winter, while outside
Xerox machines spit out replicas of the rain forest,
inch by square inch. I see the new fruit glowing
like an emergency inside my vultured grip.
I say, "The story is dying, the story is dying. Don't let the story die yet..."
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
ZEUS GETS A HAIR-CUT
Well, let me start this by saying, “Fuck you all!”
You think scattering my thick, black curls will make me small, leave me a scalded mountain in my bed-sheet, as fit for the morgue as the barber?
It means nothing less than nothing to me. You're all so desperate nowadays to bring low
that which confounds your careful rooms, your four even corners.
Yeah, well, I held court in a hall with ten times
that many sides, while I set fire to drunken ingrates,
laid diagnose to a nation of infected throats.
Fuck the climate control! I want the fever
that's coming to me.
I still dream of maidens by above-ground pools.
I dug into them as a worm through rotted wood.
You think I'm ashamed of that? My hump
showing white beneath star-light younger than I am?
I've put myself through a lot worse just for a little contact.
Never mind you would burn in a second
from the glory of my open chest.
All I wanted was your dust, your cast-offs,
your incidental sweat, an eye-drop to see my reflection in.
But you, the dry ones, so sure of your counting, your medicine;
One lock, two, the whole mane come tumbling.
Who's to say I didn't want it this way?
That your slow dissection is not itself a kind of worship?
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
The spirits that live with us are dying. Each summer
we spend away from them, their voices grow dimmer.
Trampled here beneath these mile-high pylons of bone
is the smell of the first season, is your hair growing long,
is the time you first caught scent of your own body
and thought, “I've been smelling that all my life!”
Someone just shoved past me who could be an old lover
or a dead ancestor, but what does it matter?
Faces become emblems of themselves.We are shuttled from tunnel to tunnel, through miles
of massed blackness, our heads bobbing like long rows
of candles on an altar, waiting to be blown out.
The light comes on again. “Exit.” We jostle and push
toward our next hurried birth.
Monday, November 26, 2007
I go looking for the white light of your skin in the rain. I go with the clinging impulse of dust to clutch the small noise your body gives off.
When I strain, I can catch it, even in this churning
chain-smoked bar. Our brief time together has taught me
your silence is a buried trick, thick with awkward
dresses, the ugly flowers of childhood, living rooms that gave off cold and never heat,
your father calling distractedly over the racket of jazz.
Your silence a tightly packed blossom that might explode
into spore, drowning your lungs, your voice.
It is raining. You are leaving tonight.
Rivers are joining to set off black currents between us.
Leaves are bursting into murderous green bounty,
the air is choking with life,
more weight to a city already too heavy.
Bats shriek nervously above the park,
the siren-wide, stretching pale light
of empty playing fields, where rain falls
in the smallest of particles, gathered
in vast black nets of grass. When I feel like this, I feel
I could come apart in my own hands,
I could hold you.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
In the summer, we go on trips. The lawn grows, the moon rises
while we are gone. We read the billboards on the way down,
but coming back, they'll be different.
For a while we float, as made up as balloons.
We look at him in the front seat, hunched at stop lights,
sweat clinging to his white dress shirt.
We hear him curse and fumble with maps.
Right now, far above us, on the moon we won't see
for another five hours, Apollo is accomplishing its mission.
The kicked-up dust hangs behind them
in dead-air tendrils as they make their way.
Stuck in traffic jams and broiling heat, we think
of the possibilities that TV has taught us;
of the astronauts' re-entry failing, of them burning up
in orbit, reduced to nothing but meat.
We hit speed bumps, jolt into rest stops for blessed
soda pop and the terrifying urinals of adults.
Then, we're back in the back seat again, ready
to shuffle our toys, telling new stories
as the afternoon lengthens and the moon pulls into view.
It burns above the super-heated blue of the highway—
but there are men up there, there are men!
Down here, we are Army generals, glow-in-the-dark
Aurora models snatched from lacquered dresser tops:
Wolf-Man, Mummy, Frankenstein,
poised to strike with the perfectly-tanned sabre-tooth
at the last remnants of the Planet of the Apes.
We are the angry men we've yet to become.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
(*Gaelic word for whiskey, literally: "Water of Life")
The water I come from grows smaller; a puddle, rivulet or mug.
What glitters in strips across rooftops, on dirty
ponchos and slow-breaking waves of faces, is not the
same as what once ran from house gutters, where I
cupped my hands in some small semblance of prayer,
not the same as the stream that slid through dark
curves of earth, where the red lizard ranand doves were left in bloody tangles as totems or offerings, "Don't go beyond this."
The old women called me from the woods,
their china teeth stained with sugar and tea.
All I found were pine needles and the terrifying eyes
of crows. The older kids, stinking of gasoline,
tried to teach me how to strangle birds,
but I wouldn't listen.
I lay down beneath the flag of my country:
a red-checkered picnic cloth.
I saw my ancestors curled on it, amidst the sharp-
edged grass by the river bank, applauding fireworks,
and later, artillery shells.
I saw them pass milk and bourbon, cold chicken,
fresh butter spooled out beneath the fading sun.
I saw them act amazed when their men stared out
at them like grey-coated ghosts from newspapers and
wanted posters, but the eyes, a shunted, dense anger, were of a color
they poured into them, same as the bourbon.
There were questions I had from the back-seat, about
funerals and grand-ma's panties.
I forgot them. I drove around,
Schlitz and finger-fucking behind grave stones.There were fire-works, video-blips of exploded towns,
broken teeth of the quarter-back I never wanted to
be. There was a thirst I learned
for drink, furious, my tongue
plying the dryness between my father's ribs.
Now the water comes, and I can't leave it.
Friday, November 23, 2007
I am bending the leaves of autumn to my liking. I am a dunce knitting them together at some
arts 'n' crafts camp. I'll fold their stricken
golds and reds into tin cups to feed the needy,
I will create from them a whole diorama
of the city's populace holding hands, and wait, numbly smiling for someone's approval.
I will sit there and still hear the leaves falling,
stitching their piecemeal armor to the highway,
while tires sluice through a late rain outside. I will see headlights fall through the front gates,
send their caustic gaze my way, until the engine
shuts off, ticks over: anotherfamily member stopping by to rattle my cage.
Oh, I know they have their hopes: that I will grow
to be an adult, driving on a highway past fifty
anonymous front gates just like this one and not think another thing, that the leaves will fall to words
like "Bourbon" and "Automatic Traction," that I will have one damn pop-song so stuck
in my head I couldn't get rid of it even if you shot me.
But I want to stay as stupid as I am right now.
Because each leaf that falls meets the soil,
and you know what happens then, don't you? I was born of a few leaves falling and I count them,
gathering them up into a rough scripture that’ll do
no good, because the last line always ends with,
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Bells toll in the distance, announcing a long and steady ache. This day begins and ends like a kingdom. As if nothing
were your own, as if the next word you spoke
could be traced back to the first word ever spoken, and so on. I think of the perfect egg cream waiting
at the corner luncheonette, where men with sagging faces
and arms like rough corded fire-wood crack their beer cans and talk about the last days of some other empire.
A story is being told. Wrap the dying hero
in his bloody birth-cloth and launch him;
this has been going on too long.
The father who curses his daughter for losing
a quarter in the pay phone, who kicks his son
for wearing the same swollen, slit-eyed expression
he does, who grips and grips a roll of electrician's tape
and a half-drunk Pepsi while he lists the fifty-odd
forms of hate; there is nothing personal in that. It is all part of a larger dominion.
Look, the father rises, puts on his work boots and a few sturdy words; he's a new man by the end of the weekend.
His daughter's lips are crooked and blue. She has a story
to tell at school that Monday, about the beginning of the world. In it, her father's hand is a fish.
There is nothing alive on the surface of a snow-pop.
When the sun melts us, that is all we have inside—
a wooden popsicle stick. They are gathered
and sterilized and brought to the school nurse, to depress the tongue. Is this a time of sickness?
A mouth hangs open, and from that
words and words will come.
Your forehead is hot, is it a fever? Is this where the world came from?
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
LIKE THE FALL
What can I tell you? Tonight, I am the bitter but romantic sea captain, standing drunk at the prow
while his ship heads into impossible storms, raging mists.
My crew has deserted me. I have drained the decanters
of all my highly honored guests, who recently fled by helicopter. I am at last left alone with my terrible secret.
It is like the fall of Saigon, except I am one man. It is not a nation I am abandoning, a way of life—
it is not even a woman. I want to remainan anachronism, a thing of the past;
the man who would say nothing.
Better to slip into ruin with sea-spray and whiskey,
dizzily listing the constellations that once guided my way.
Now watch. This is my best moment---where I break
my empty glass and throw the shards into the boiling waves.
Where I smile and bleed and accept my fate, heading toward a collision that is certain
but never shown.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Have you ever contributed to your own composite sketch?
Shift the graphite a little to the left, shade the nostrils a bit,
make them flare, enlarge the ear lobes, crook the smile
like a clothes hanger?
There's no such thing as strangers. You've met them all
at one time or another. It’s in the tiniest details
that we give ourselves away.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
The polish has gone out of the world There’s no talking to the boys and girls Outsourced ugliness all the time
And we stumble over ourselves to “Make mine, make mine”
I go walking with a thread in my head
I don’t stop until there’s a noose instead The koda-chrome trees are making like mimes
And I’m already late to
“Make mine, make mine”
The asylum gets asylum, the doors swing wide
A poison Kool-Aid moon changes the tide And the tired paramours of a dying line Wait in the shadows to
“Make mine, make mine”
The parade’s in a shambles, the float’s on fire
Someone’s screaming to a higher power
We’re always alone, but it’s not funny this time
Because all we tried to do was
“Make mine, make mine”
Saturday, November 17, 2007
NO CASA DE MANNA
In this city, yellow-smoke sky,
Carnival groans, skeletal cries,
I seek the leaf, the frond, the bloom-- Fire the wallpaper of my room!
Lay your shadow inside my wound.
Leak your tincture to crusted ruins. Awake to me the startled grip
of branches sprung from ribcage-crypt.
No Casa de Manna for you--
It's doors shut to such solitude. Enlightenment's opened a franchise,
All ablaze with peace-bloated eyes. Something ferocious, this repose-- Carnivorous and razor-boned.
An ache of sweat, gasoline lungs,
Means to an end, corrupted sums.
I smell the cannibal afloat
In steaming street-side vendor's moat
of Orange Crush and hot pork pies--
Sell the weakened, we will abide.
It's true, the thick, brackish hue
of this degraded Bar-B-Que
Makes me op for an angel's taste
of road-kill plunder, Mainline Grace.
Oh, yank free my demon sweet-tooth--
An ancient hunger made to suit
Newport smiles and bright penny eyes,
A river littered, self despised.
Down in the hole, we gnaw and clutch.
Vision turns a convenient crutch.
What was once certain as our breath
Is nothing now, beget and beget....
Friday, November 16, 2007
Take me on a station wagon ride
through a dry-throated desert,
where hubcaps are hung as skulls,
laundry flutters and is not folded.
Lay me to rest there,
so I can watch my angular shadow
short itself out like a faulty circuit.
From a back window comes a sentimental song
no one believed in, even when it was written.
Kids play games with dust and broken furniture.
I was once one of them.
I learned that thirst was nothing
but the absence of expectation.
I let the aimless wind flip
text book pages, past illustrations
of steam boats, skeletons.
I stayed very still and listened
to my bones stretch beneath skin.
Now, I fry eggs, straighten bookshelves,
wait for death.
When I hear thunder,
it's never really thunder.
Lay me down in this desert,
in its cracked black riverbeds.
Let me use my fingers, dig.
Let me know what it is to raise
water to my lips, drink.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
The outpost, mistaken for a church from a distance, reveals itself
on closer viewing to belong to an entirely different order of the
mundane. A one-eyed ex-civil servant minds the store. He
coughs abruptly, to fill the silence. Long tin shelves
are stacked with dry goods, outmoded office equipment.
Telegraph papers scuttle like tired crabs across the floor, lifted by the hot wind. You notice on one an old message crossed
out and begun: "I wish....I wish to say....I wish I hadn't
The faces on the canned labels smile at you like an expectant
audience. They are buck-toothed youths mostly, idiot savants
perhaps, blanched and withered by the long filter of late-
afternoon sunlight. But still they beam out a kind of
uncomplicated happiness, like the memory of a first sister
before she died from scarlet fever at age two.
This is about the point where you peer out the window, looking
for the lone crow perched on a dead branch, thrusting up its
ragged black wing against the blue. It has been a long time
leaving your parents, and so you get to this. You can't find a
choice that doesn't seem false, and you can't open your mouth,
because you're afraid to hate what comes from it.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Oh, don't get like that. Every move I pull, you're always there
over my shoulder, shaking your head, pious and redundant. You
think it's easy slipping into what the moment requires?
Seersucker, trench coat, velvet pajamas. How many people have
I become, talking you in or out of situations? While all you do is
try to pretend I don't exist. So here's a funny question. How do I
sell myself to you?
Scenarios make the man. They might come cheap and worn-out,
but they wear whatever clothes we can spare them. You're
looking for the constants in life, while I'm a master of the
unsteady art; the shell-game of many fictions. But I can't keep it
up forever. You know the whole story about how there's only
twenty-eight basic stories to tell? Well, I'm getting tired of
shaving the angles.
I thought that by stealing every expectation, I could teach you
something, could make you accept me. Look around you.
The wheat fields bow down beneath the rain in the dark.
The wheat is broken down into loafs of enriched bread.
That bread will be shoved into plastic sleeves bearing
some cracker's likeness, who grants his down-home smile
to the emblem of a brick oven outmoded since last century.
That's your sense of natural wonder? Give me a break.
C'mon, man. It's wet outside. My engine is warm.
We've got some money to make.